Homeless advice

Rough sleeping

How to help rough sleepers

There are several ways to report a rough sleeper depending on when you are reporting it.

At night (5pm to 9am), weekends and bank holidays

During office hours (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)

In an emergency dial 999, if the person is in immediate danger or needs urgent care.

Please give as much information as you can about the location of the person, their description, and what time you saw them.

If the temperature falls below freezing the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) is activated so that no one is left on the streets irrespective of their immigration status

Working in partnership

Harrow Council, together with partners, work to ensure rough sleepers in Harrow are provided with appropriate support and advice on housing options. Our partners include: 

  • homelessness charities
  • specialist substance misuse
  • mental health organisations
  • voluntary and community groups

Regular checks are carried out to identify and help people sleeping on the streets.

Frequently asked questions

What is rough sleeping?

Rough sleeping means sleeping on the streets, in tents, doorways, parks, bus shelters, encampments, buildings or other places not designed for habitation (e.g. stairwells, sheds, car parks, cars, or train and bus stations).

Rough sleeping doesn’t usually mean people living in hostels or shelters, sofa surfers, people in campsites, squats or travellers sites.

While the number of rough sleepers in Harrow is low compared to some other areas, we have developed services to assist rough sleepers.

Some people who are rough sleeping do not feel able to accept the accommodation that they are offered and remain street homeless.

Outreach work is carried out by Harrow Council and partners, to build a relationship to understand their individual circumstances and find a way to help them.

What help is available if you are at risk of becoming a rough sleeper?

If you are at risk of becoming a rough sleeper please contact the Housing Advice Team. They will be able to advise you about your situation.

The team works with other local services and charities that provide street outreach, short and long term accommodation solutions and support services.

How can I report a concern about a rough sleeper?

You can use the Harrow Rough Sleepers referral form to inform the Council’s Rough Sleeping Outreach Team of any people sleeping rough within Harrow.  

The rough sleeping teams are operational on weekdays and will response to any referrals within 24 hours of a referral being received.

Alternatively, StreetLink helps members of the public to connect people sleeping rough with the local services that can support them.

You can contact StreetLink through their website, downloading their mobile app or by telephone.

If you think the person you are concerned about is in immediate danger or needs urgent care please call 999.

You could also support or advise the person to contact Harrow Council’s Housing Advice Team.

What is the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP)?

SWEP is short-term, temporary service for anyone sleeping rough, regardless of their local connections or recourse to public funds, which is activated any time that the temperature is forecast to reach 0 °C or below.

The SWEP activation is coordinated by the Mayor of London for the whole of London. Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, many of the accommodation options that have been previously used for SWEP cannot be used this year. This year we will be using other types of accommodation instead.

Who else supports rough sleepers in Harrow?

The following charities and organisations support rough sleepers.


FirmFoundation is a local charity based in Harrow working with homeless people.
The services provided include drop-in sessions, the Winter Night Shelter, outreach and floating support and Hope Place supported housing.

FirmFoundation usually runs a weekly ‘food and shower’ drop-in at Harrow Baptist Church and a weekly ‘signposting’ drop-in at Trinity Church.

Harrow street pastors

Harrow street pastors are part of a national team of trained volunteers from local churches who care about the community and who are there to care, listen and help people who are out on the streets.

They are usually on patrol from 10pm to 4am on a Friday or Saturday.

Salvation Army

The Salvation Army is a worldwide christian church and registered charity, which fights against social inequality and transforms lives.

Giving money to rough sleepers or charities

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether someone is a rough sleeper or a street beggar who is not homeless. We would encourage you to donate to the organisations who support rough sleepers locally instead.